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Documentary Premiere Question

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Aaron Cadieux
Documentary Premiere Question
on Sep 16, 2013 at 1:10:51 am

Hey guys,

I am co-director and co-producer of a feature length documentary set to premiere at the end of October.

The premiere event will include an introduction to the film, a speech from one of the film's most important participants, and a Q&A after the film with the filmmakers and the film's cast.

The film is generating a buzz across the country, and is even generating a buzz overseas. The other co-director and I are not seeing eye to eye on an idea that I had. The film is premiering in Massachusetts. We are getting a number of emails and messages from people who live far outside of the New England region who want to see the film. I had the idea to offer a live pay-per-view simulcast of the premiere event over the internet via Ustream. Internet viewers would get to see everything that people in the theater will see, including pre and post-film talks, and the film itself.

My co-director is worried about internet piracy. He is also worried that people will order the live stream and invite a ton of friends over to view it for free. And lastly, he is worried that the internet pay-per-view option will hurt DVD sales.

I am not worried about piracy for the following reasons: This is a niche film with a specific demographic (especially for the premiere). This is not a major Hollywood motion picture. I don't envision many people wasting their time trying to videotape a computer screen, or use screen capture software in order to steal this film. Even if people do pirate the film, I don't think the portion of the population that obtains their movies through piracy is significant enough to really impact future sales. I am also not worried about people inviting friends over to watch the movie via live stream. If a room full of people like the movie, then that's a room full of potential DVD/Blu-Ray sales when the film is released on DVD/Blu-Ray next year.

Ticket sales for the premiere are going toward reimbursing me for what I've spent on this film so far. I see the live streaming option as a way to generate additional revenue for distribution and merchandizing.

Bottom line . . . Is this live streaming idea a good one, or a bad one? Should out-of-region people have to wait until a DVD/Blu-Ray release to see this film? Sorry for the lengthy post.

Opinions welcome!

Thanks guys!


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Mark Suszko
Re: Documentary Premiere Question
on Sep 16, 2013 at 5:22:57 am

I would look up Fathom Events and see if you can book a few locations thru them.

"He's worried the live show will hurt DVD sales".

This sounds silly to me. People will either watch it once in the theatre and pay you, or they will watch it in the theatre and LOVE it so much they order a DVD copy to keep, thus paying you TWICE...
Or they hear from a friend about the movie and buy a DVD or do a PPV download. In each case you get paid. People choose piracy as a last resort when you make it too hard or expensive to see the product legitimately. Besides checking Fathom Events, see if you can push it out as a Red Box rental. I have seen perhaps the worst movie ever made get distributed on Red Box; yours HAS to be better, sight-unseen.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Documentary Premiere Question
on Sep 16, 2013 at 2:42:47 pm

Also look into PPV thru major channels like ATT U-Verse and Netflix, even Amazon. Selling DVD's these days is an uphill slog and you have to shoulder all the up-front investment in creating the product and marketing and distributing it. I think after all the middle-men for that process have had their bite, and you total up the profit, if any, you wind up with as much as if you had just gone all-digital for distribution, with only a small on-demand DVD market. I think my strategy would be to hit the festival circuit with it but push PPV hard and not worry about DVD sales as much. PPV revenue is money in hand, today. DVD takes much longer to pay off, if it ever does, and many small titles wind up in the cut-out rack at Dollar General.

Where DVD is still strong is for people buying sets of episodal TV shows. But old folks like me that want a physical disk on a shelf are fading away. Todays market, and future markets, IMO are all about the cloud and streams on demand, whenever, wherever. Virtualized.

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Andrew Kimery
Re: Documentary Premiere Question
on Sep 17, 2013 at 6:44:02 am

I agree that your partner is being a little paranoid. Especially if you don't have very much money for a marketing budget find a way to get your movie into the hands of the people that are asking to see they movie. They are the ones that can help fuel word of mouth.

When I was reading this my biggest concern was how to get a reliable, high quality feed from your venue out to Ustream? The last thing you'd want to happen is for the stream to crap out and/or compress your film into oblivion.

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walter biscardi
Re: Documentary Premiere Question
on Oct 15, 2013 at 12:31:42 pm

[Mark Suszko] "I would look up Fathom Events and see if you can book a few locations thru them."

Last I checked, they started at $250,000

As for the viewing through streaming, I might stream the pre or post film discussion after the fact, but probably not the film itself. use it as a marketing tool to get folks to come see the film or order it later. Forget DVD, look to go through Netflix or Hulu if you really want to get eyeballs on the film after distribution.

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